Originally published in the November 2013 issue of Money magazine.
Do you -- gasp! -- like your bank?
Surprising as it may seem, Americans are pretty happy with their financial institutions. According to a recent J.D. Power & Associates survey, customer satisfaction is back up as high as it was in 2007, before the financial crisis began. The nation's largest banks in particular have seen a big jump in customer ratings over the past year, narrowing the lead their smaller peers have long maintained.
Your growing contentment may be owed, at least partly, to the fact that banks have been working to improve client relations: "Many of the big banks are now offering person-to-person customer service at the same level that the smaller banks have in the past," says Jim Miller, J.D. Power's senior director of banking.
The largest depository institutions, he explains, have been pushing employees to build relationships, even to simply greet people with a smile.
Or maybe you like the new technological conveniences offered. In response to Americans' rapid adoption of web and mobile banking, banks of all sizes have been adding services in these areas -- like having customer reps available by instant-messaging and allowing check deposit via smartphone.
In fact, "institutions are rolling out mobile-banking features as soon as they can," says Mary Monahan, executive vice president of market research firm Javelin.
But what about all the fees banks tacked on and hiked up post-2008? You can't have forgotten about those? Well, the J.D. Power data shows that consumers better understand what they're being charged, and Miller takes satisfaction in this realm to mean that you've accepted the fees as standard. So maybe you're not happy so much as ... resigned?
You need not give up so easily. Money's third annual quest to find the best banks in America -- which involved reviewing checking, savings, and CD terms from 58 of the nation's largest banks and credit unions -- uncovered a few atypical institutions that deserve your loyalty. Plus, industry gurus say there are some interesting new developments coming down the pike for retail depositors.